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YouTube: are parent-uploaded videos of their unwell children a useful source of medical information for other parents?
  1. Katie Knight1,
  2. Dorothy M van Leeuwen2,
  3. Damian Roland3,4,
  4. Henriette A Moll2,
  5. Rianne Oostenbrink2
  1. 1 Department of Paediatrics, North Middlesex University Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2 Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  3. 3 SAPPHIRE Group, Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  4. 4 Paediatric Emergency Medicine Leicester Academic (PEMLA) Group, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katie Knight, Department of Paediatrics, North Middlesex University Hospital, Sterling Way, London N18 1QX, UK; Katieknight1{at}


Aims YouTube is a vast source of freely accessible user-uploaded medical information. To our knowledge no study has analysed the quality of parent-uploaded videos which depict illness in their children. We aimed to investigate the quality and quantity of videos representing two common conditions, croup and dehydration.

Method YouTube was searched using the search terms ‘croup+child’ and ‘dehydration+child’. The first 400 videos of each search were screened. Videos created by doctors or by educational institutions were excluded. The parent-uploaded videos were analysed using the validated Medical Video Rating Scale. Each video was separately evaluated for whether it represented a good clinical example of the condition featured.

Results Out of 38 ‘croup’ videos which met criteria, 15 were judged to be good clinical examples. Only 7 of these 15 ‘good clinical example’ videos were also of high technical quality. Out of 28 ‘dehydration’ videos which met the inclusion criteria, two were good clinical examples. One of these videos had good technical quality.

Conclusions There were very few videos of either condition which showed a good clinical example while also displaying high technical quality. It is extremely difficult and time consuming to isolate such examples from the mass of information available and therefore parents could be misled by apparently high technical quality videos which are not in fact good clinical examples. Healthcare professionals should be careful when discussing finding medical information on YouTube and consider creating repositories of good examples so they are able to direct parents towards more reputable resources.

  • Medical Education
  • General Paediatrics

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  • Twitter Follow Damian Roland @damian_roland

  • Contributors DR had the initial idea for the research. KK and DMvL gathered and analysed data. KK prepared the abstract and manuscript. DR, HAM and RO were all equally involved as supervisors providing advice and guidance at all stages.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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